Neverworlds – "The Israel Experience"

The mistake is attaching the name "Israel" to Jerusalem. There's no magic there just an unseemly lie.

Concept art for shopping street in the Israel pavilion at EPCOT Center

Another press release from the file of fruitless announcements, this presumptive blurb comes from November of 1981:


Representatives of the State of Israel and Walt Disney World signed an agreement for the design of a major pavilion representing that country in the community of nations in World Showcase at EPCOT Center.
EPCOT Center is our vast new showplace for the nations of today and the technology of the future, currently under construction. It is scheduled to open October 1, 1982, and cost $800 million. More than 120 million guests have already visited our Walt Disney World Vacation Kingdom since opening in October 1971.
The agreement was signed by Joseph Wolff, special advisor to the Minister of Finance for Israel and President of the Tourist Industry Development Corporation, representing the State of Israel. Carl Bongirno, President of WED Enterprises and Executive Vice President of EPCOT Center, and Howard Roland, Corporate Vice President of Contract Administration, signed the agreement for the Disney organization.
The agreement, following months of negotiation, is the beginning of design for this latest addition to the World Showcase area of EPCOT Center. The pavilion is scheduled to open in 1983.
Wolff was part of a team from Israel, which also included Samuel Ben-Tovim, Consul and Trade Commissioner to the U.S. for the State of Israel and Jeshaja Weinberg, Director of the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora in Tel Aviv. The group has been consulting with our Disney organization to finalize their countries’ participation in World Showcase.
The pavilion of the State of Israel joins eight other countries in the circle of nations surrounding the World Showcase Lagoon. They are: Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Japan, Italy, Germany and Canada. American Adventure, a dramatic presentation dedicated to the “American Spirit, ” will stand at the center of World Showcase and will be presented jointly by American Express and Coca-Cola. Additional pavilions currently under development for future representation in World Showcase include Denmark and Africa.
This never happened, of course, for obvious reasons.  But a sign appeared in World Showcase around 1983 marking the future spot of the attraction:
“The Old Meets the New in the ‘Land of The Bible’
Seeing that presumptive blurb, it’s not hard to imagine why the pavilion didn’t happen. The sign features another Ryman rendering, though, as did the other World Showcase “Coming Soon” signs.
 It was a total PR nightmare, with threats of boycotts from the Arab League and various Arab American cultural and business groups, and Israeli officials adopting the “you’re not helping” strategy of rubbing their choice placement in a widely-seen Disney attraction in the faces of the public.
Perhaps that’s a clue to the reason why Disney has continued to flirt with the idea of a Spain pavilion – another of those lost 1983 attractions – over the years, but we rightly haven’t heard a peep about Israel since the days of Card Walker.
Israel did eventually slither it's way into EPCOT, in the form of an exhibit at the Millennium Pavilion which sat between the Canada and United Kingdom showcases from 1999-2001. The $8 million exhibit featured a strange motion-base film attraction called Journey to Jerusalem, which provided a tour of  historic sites in the occupied  holy land. According to an October 8, 1999 article by Julia Goldman, in j. weekly, "Visitors to the gold-hued building (to mock the Al-Quds mosque?) that houses the Israel exhibit at Epcot Center's Millennium Village  are warned that 'Journey to Jerusalem,' the eight-minute video that is its centerpiece, 'is a mildly turbulent simulator ride.'" She continues to say, "In fact, while the exhibit makes no explicit mention of Jerusalem as Israel's capital (because they were not allowed) , there is no doubt that the exhibit inextricably links Jerusalem with Israel and that Israel intended that message to come across loud and clear. They also hear a disclaimer that says the exhibit is sponsored by Israel's Foreign Ministry and 'is based on their [isolated Zionist] perspective.' It's telling when Zionists have to connive and trick people into what to believe. They also never got a spot in the cultural ride "It's a Small World which really perturbs Zionist Jews. "

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